Bill Press: Why not Joe for 2016?

Bill Press: Why not Joe for 2016?
© Getty Images

As Americans, one of the things we do best, and one of the few times we are able to pull together, is mourning, as we did last week in profound grief over the tragic loss of the dynamic, young, courageous and talented public servant Beau Biden, son of Vice President Biden. 

He was considered a sure bet to be Delaware’s next governor, and was a probable future senator and president, until he was struck down at only 46 years of age. Delaware residents and Americans nationwide joined the extended Biden family in three days of moving celebration of Beau Biden’s life, capped by a personal and highly emotional eulogy by President Obama. 

ADVERTISEMENT

And one central theme dominated all the tributes: that Beau Biden, as remarkable as he was, got his courage in the face of adversity, his dedication to public service, his unbounded patriotism, and his love for the downtrodden from his father, of whom he was almost a carbon copy. 

In many ways, last week’s testimonials were about both Beau Biden and Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden bemoans white supremacy in remarks at civil rights movement site Gun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate MORE.

Which raises an important question: In all the talk about the Democratic candidates for president in 2016, why isn’t Joe Biden at the top of the list?

Unlike the Republican clown car, Democrats already have four credible candidates for the nomination: Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee. But, in terms of experience and qualifications for the job, on both foreign policy and domestic matters, nobody tops Joe Biden. 

During his 36 years in the Senate, he served as chairman of both the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees, building an outstanding record on a wide variety of issues that reflect his own middle-class background, including consumer and environmental protection, the minimum wage, college aid, arms control and campaign reform. 

Biden opposed the Gulf War in 1991. And while he voted to authorize the Iraq War in 2002 — as did Clinton, who was then a senator from New York — he soon admitted his “mistake,” becoming an early advocate of letting Iraq break up into three ethnic states — a solution that may still prove to be the best outcome. He himself cites the Violence Against Women Act as “the single most significant legislation” he crafted as senator.

Over the last six years, Biden has proven to be one of our most effective vice presidents ever, tapped by Obama to lead several critical initiatives, including managing the 2009 stimulus package and shaping gun safety legislation. He’s the president’s go-to guy in dealing with Congress, as evidenced by the presence of both Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Harry Reid, as well as many other senators, at Beau Biden’s funeral.

Of course, every candidate has his or her shortcomings. Biden has two — his age and his malaprops — but neither are serious. He may be 72, but he’s a vigorous and healthy 72, whom nobody doubts could handle the demands of the presidency. And while he may occasionally say something politically incorrect or just downright dumb, most people laugh and chalk that up as just Joe being Joe.

In setting their sights for 2016, Democrats are making a mistake if they forget about Joe Biden. 

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.